Nov 29, 2021
College of the Ozarks President Jerry C. Davis to assume role as chancellor, effective June 2022
POINT LOOKOUT, MO. — On Oct. 26, 2021, the College of the Ozarks Board of Trustees accepted the request of President Jerry C. Davis to transition to the role of chancellor for the College, effective June 1, 2022.
Board Chairman General Terrence R. Dake recognized Davis’ stellar leadership and acknowledged his contributions to the College in correspondence that was sent to the campus family, alumni, and donors.
“The Board of Trustees of College of the Ozarks, in recognition of the significant contribution Dr. Jerry C. Davis has made to the College during his 33-year tenure, has granted Dr. Davis’ request for a change of status to chancellor of College of the Ozarks, effective June 1, 2022. In this capacity, Dr. Davis will continue to serve the institution that he has grown and shepherded into a school of national prominence,” Dake said.
Davis assumed the presidency of College of the Ozarks in 1988, after having served as president of Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky, for eleven years. His tenure of 44 years in the college presidency is among the longest in the United States.
“My heart and soul have been dedicated to the success of College of the Ozarks for over three decades,” Davis said. “My commitment to the school is as strong as ever, but I have decided to transition into the role of chancellor in order to focus on visiting the increasing numbers of friends and donors across the country. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and I have no doubt our next president will build upon the successful momentum generated by our outstanding faculty, staff, and students.”
Dake said, “Dr. Davis had discussed his transition with me in early 2020, but when the pandemic occurred, he decided to delay until the college weathered the storm. We are grateful for his steady hand during the national crisis. Because of his leadership, College of the Ozarks was one of the three percent of colleges and universities that maintained in-person classes in the 2020-2021 school year, which took courage and sacrifice on the part of the students, faculty, staff, and administration.”
Since 1988, the institution, called Hard Work U. by The Wall Street Journal in 1973, has received national acclaim. Davis held tightly to the College’s mission and focused on improving operations. The Work College model, wherein students work to offset the cost of education, remains as the College’s operating system. The campus has seen more than $50 million of new construction under Davis’ leadership. The endowment has increased substantially, and the institution remains debt free.
The College has five institutional pillars, which include academic, Christian, cultural, vocational, and patriotic. Davis solidified the patriotic pillar of College of the Ozarks by establishing the Patriotic Education Travel Program, creating patriotic education curriculum, honoring Veterans on campus, and by building Patriots Park, among other endeavors. The College’s Patriotic Education Travel Program is unique and widely recognized. Students and Veterans are paired and sent to battlefields across the globe — Normandy, Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Hiroshima, and Vietnam, to name a few.
“The school is blessed to have a dedicated and devoted team of faculty and staff that make our vision a daily reality,” Davis said. “I have witnessed monumental changes during my 33-year tenure as president, and I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of College of the Ozarks and its positive impact on our country, which desperately needs leaders who know what they believe and why and who love America. The graduates of C of O, and S of O, are highly sought after and are making a difference in the workplace and the communities in which they live.
“I initially intended to step aside in 2020 but, like everyone else, the pandemic crisis changed my plans. However, God’s timing is always perfect, and He has established His plan for me to transition into a new phase of leadership. My dedication to College of the Ozarks has never wavered, and I will stay actively engaged in my new role as chancellor while our next president builds upon the foundation and takes the helm of the day-to-day operations. Our donor base has increased by several thousand the past few years, and Shirley and I will enjoy spending most of our time visiting many of them.”
More about President Jerry C. Davis
Davis earned a Ph.D. from Ohio State University, 1970; an M.S. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 1967; and a B.S. degree in biology from Mars Hill University in North Carolina, 1965. He also attended Truett McConnell University in Cleveland, Georgia, from 1961-63. In 1961, Davis received his high school diploma, with honors, from the Mount Berry School for Boys in Mount Berry, Georgia. In his early years, he attended Hartwell Elementary in Hartwell, Georgia, and Villa Rica High School in Villa Rica, Georgia.
Davis began serving as a college administrator when he was named president of Alice Lloyd College (Pippa Passes, Kentucky) at the age of 33 in 1977 and served until 1988. He presided over the transition of the institution from a two-year to four-year status and tripled the enrollment.
During Davis’ tenure, College of the Ozarks received many recognitions, such as the 2015 National Freedom Award, the highest honor given by the United States Department of Defense to employers for support of National Guard and Reserve employees. Under his watchful eye, College of the Ozarks has been noted for its academic excellence, character development, and affordability by several national publications including The Princeton Review Best 373 Colleges, The New York Times, USA Today, Forbes, and Money Magazine. The College has been featured in The Wall Street Journal and on FOX News Network, CBS, ABC, and various national radio networks.
In 1997, Davis established The Keeter Center for Character Education, which has received national acclaim for attracting speakers such as Lady Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Franklin Graham, Dr. Ben Carson, and others.
U.S. News & World Report has ranked College of the Ozarks a top college in the Midwest since 1989, including recognition of the institution as the No. 2 Best Undergraduate Teaching in the most recent ranking.
Responding to the demand for qualified healthcare professionals, Davis initiated the plans for a nursing program at College of the Ozarks. In 2006, The Armstrong McDonald School of Nursing was instituted, training students to serve with excellence, proficiency, and Christlike character. The program has achieved outstanding results since its inception – showing a 100 percent employment rate within three months of graduation. The program holds national accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and surpasses the Commission’s graduation rate benchmark by 10 percent.
In the fall of 2016, The James P. Keeter School of Engineering was launched as an answer to inquiring students who yearned for a chance to experience the world of engineering and learn its complexities. The accomplishments and milestones of the program during the first five years are noteworthy. The Bachelor of Science in Engineering prepares students for a wide range of engineering jobs in the industry and for specialized graduate programs in engineering and related fields. The first engineering students graduated in 2020, 12 in the spring and three in December. All students who have taken the fundamentals of engineering exam have passed, giving C of O a 100 percent pass rate.
In 2021, the College launched The William S. Knight Center for Patriotic Education, founded in order to take the College’s tested patriotic education programs to a national stage and support the civic education of American youth through advocacy and digital resources. The William S. Knight Center for Patriotic Education embodies the patriotic pillar of the College: to encourage an understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country, and the willingness to defend it. The Center will house patriotic education classes for both C of O and S of O students, the community, and all those across the nation who care about the future of America.
One of Davis’ crowning achievements is the re-establishment of School of the Ozarks, a K-12 classical Christian laboratory school located on the campus of College of the Ozarks. Ninety percent of all the students demonstrate financial need. This brings the institution full circle with the completion of a K-college model, all under the same mission, vision, and pillars.
In 2004, Davis received the Missourian Award, one of the state’s highest honors. In 2017, he was presented with the E. Burr Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The award honors individuals who have made a significant and lasting impact on the field of institutional advancement through their fundraising efforts and who have earned the respect and admiration of their professional colleagues.
He and his wife, Shirley, have been married 55 years, and they have three children (Jeff, Julie, and Sara June), as well as 10 grandchildren.